Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Hurricane Mitch was one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever observed, with maximum sustained winds of 180 mph or 290 km/h. Mitch battered Central America from October 22, 1998 to November 5, 1998, killing about 11,000 people. It was the deadliest hurricane in over 200 years, and second deadliest ever.
Hurricane Mitch began life as an African tropical wave that entered the Atlantic on October 10. After moving across the Atlantic and into the Caribbean Sea, the wave began organizing. It was classified as a tropical depression on October 22 about 360 n mi south of Kingston, Jamaica. The depression moved westward slowly, and strengthened into Tropical Storm Mitch later that day.
Mitch, still moving slowly, reached hurricane strength on the 24th while 255 n mi south-southwest of Kingston. Mitch began intensifying rapidly and on October 26 was a Category 5 hurricane. Prior to its wind speed peak, Mitch's central pressure dropped to 905 mb, one of the lowest ever recorded in an Atlantic hurricane, and comparable to that of Hurricane Camille.
Mitch passed over the Swan Islands on October 27, and weakened slightly as it approached Honduras. As it neared the coast, its forward motion stopped, and Mitch meandered off the coast of Honduras until the 29th. Mitch made landfall that day 70 n mi east of la Ceiba as a Category 2 hurricane.
Now over land, Mitch weakened, and was classified a tropical depression as it entered Guatemala on the 31st. The depression dissipated, but a remnant circulation remained. On November 2, this system reorganized over the Bay of Campeche, and Mitch again became a named storm, 130 n mi southwest of Mérida, Yucatán. Tropical Storm Mitch moved over Yucatán, and then across the southeastern Gulf of Mexico. Its final landfall was near Naples, Florida as a moderately strong tropical storm on November 5. Mitch became extratropical, and accelerated into the north Atlantic. It was tracked north of Great Britain on November 9.
Hurricane Mitch was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since the Great Hurricane of 1780, and displaced the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 as the second-deadliest on record. Eleven thousand people were confirmed dead, and just as many reported missing. Precise damage estimates are not available, but are reported to exceed 5 billion USD. The bulk of the damage was in Honduras and neighboring Nicaragua, but El Salvador and Guatemala also received significant damage.
Mitch was the second highly destructive hurricane to hit Honduras since the beginning of modern tropical cyclone observation and forecasting. Hurricane Fifi in 1974 killed an unknown number, but estimates are around 8,000 dead.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details